Book Review:  Trivial Pursuit, Personified

Publication date:  June 2022

Category:  Women’s Domestic Life Fiction, Family Life Fiction, Contemporary Women Fiction

Review, short version:  Four roses for Blake, four skunks for Kat.

Review, long version:

I believe that sometimes novelists deliberately create characters whom you love to hate. 

And I know there’s something so satisfying about absolutely loathing a character that…

I almost wallow in it.

It seems to me that one reason authors do this is to keep readers engaged as we move from loathing to liking that character, watching her/him transform from awful to wonderful, thus redeeming themselves.

In The Beach Trap, I’ll theorize that author Ali Brady was going for that awful-to-wonderful transformation in one of her lead female characters.

There are two female lead characters:  Blake and Kat.

Blake is a great character, and I immediately felt a connection to her.

The recipient of my four skunks – Kat – is so shallow, so narcissistic, and so completely boring that it was easy to loathe her.  She considers herself the center of the universe, and she broadcasts this on Instagram, where she’s a wanna-be influencer.

Does Kat ultimately transition from awful to wonderful? 

The Beach Trap premise does have possibilities.  When the story opens, Kat and Blake, both 12, happen to be at the same summer camp.  They’ve become besties, but that all blows up when they discover that they’re half-sisters – they share the same father.  (No spoiler alert needed here – it’s on the book’s back cover.)

The dad is married to Kat’s mother, and in a relationship with Blake’s mother.  He impregnated both women at the same time, which is all I need to say about him.

After their heart-breaking discovery at summer camp, Blake writes to Kat but Kat doesn’t respond.  The book fast forwards to 2022 and there’s been no two-way communication between them for 15 years.

Until an event that will change both their lives.

Through no fault of her own, Blake has experienced some tough turns in her life.  She has no self-confidence, but she’s smart and resilient and kind.  And hardworking.  I mention that specifically because…

Kat is exactly what her parents raised her to be:  useless.  Her only goal in life is to be a successful Instagram influencer, I suppose like Kylie Jenner, whose name I know not because I follow her, but because of this article:

For comparison purposes, Jenner:  377 million followers; Kat:  75,000.

So Kat spends her every waking moment focused on finding “Gram-worthy” (her word) circumstances in which she can position herself as the star of “Grammable moments” (her words), in the hopes of attracting more “people who see me, who love me, who look to me for advice,” (her words).  More followers will help Kat attract companies who will pay her a lot of money to shill their products, which in her pea brain equals success.

Here are a few more examples of Kat’s words:

“Every fourth picture is of me, since I am my brand.”

“The rest of my grid is full of artful shots of products of beautiful things I eat, drink, and discover throughout my day.”

“I look cute.”

“A yacht is where I belong.”

“My motto is:  Life is a fashion show.”

And when Kat’s – and Blake’s – father dies, Kat is ecstatic because:

“The post about my dad dying had more than triple the engagement of my average fashion posts!”

Kat does go through a sort-of transition, but it took until page 285 out of 356 pages for her to even begin to demonstrate that that she might transform into something beyond shallow, narcissistic, and boring.

If you think you can stomach spending time reading Kat’s drivel, then go for it.

Or, skip The Beach Trap.

And consider the time I’ve just given back as a belated holiday gift, from me to you:

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